Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Self-Concept and Education :: Education Learning Educational Essays
Self-Concept and Education An attractive dark-skinned black child with a tall and slender body, Jewel inhabits her third-grade universe with the energetic self-assuredness of someone who is eager for the next lesson, the next week, the next grade, her future. She's eight years old-going on nine, not nineteen, and you wouldn't guess that her mother died of a drug overdose a couple of years ago. You don't have to guess because her teacher will freely share the information with you a stranger--accompanied by an expression filed with smugness about self-fulfilling prophecies--if you comment even casually about Jewel's good attendance and punctuality record, praise her consistently neat home and class work admire her excellent handwriting, one of the best cursives in the class. In a classroom of thirty third-graders, Jewel is one of two black children. The other child is racially mixed with some African-American parentage but her physical features and color blend in seamlessly and nearly anonymously with all of th e other tan, tawny, golden Latino, Filipino, white, and Asian children in the class. This is a restless bunch of third- graders, except for those half-dozen who are usually too sleepy or enervated by 9:00 or 10:00 a.rn. to do any more than put their heads down on the desk when they can. Five or six students are always extremely quiet in the class, but the behaviors of the majority range from the docile but talkative to the intensely and continually disruptive and unmanageable. Jewel is talkative but is also wary and sensitive; she watches the others, watches the teacher, and desists when necessary. She has reasonable self-control, does not appear to be incorrigible, is cooperative and tractable most of thc time, is appropriately silent and focused for stretches of time, and is considered a good student by the usual everyday measurements. On this day, Jewel is talking and laughing, almost dancing--so absorbed and delighted with her classmates' topic or the moment--with the enviable childhood balloon of rising silliness and laughter that no brow-wrinkling, long division problem can easily burst--Jewel gets louder and forgets to be watchful, but it is too late. The teacher looks toward Jewel from the other side of the room, and I can tell from teacher's expression--her mean-curved lips, the narrowing of her wide blue eyes, her reddening cheeks--that Jewel is toast. From across the room teacher yells, "Jewel, sit down and be quiet--you're acting like an animal!"